Anesthesiologists PAC Awakens in Philadelphia Congressional Race

The group has spent hundreds of thousands to elect anesthesiologists, both pro- and anti-Obamacare, to Congress.

Jack Fitzpatrick
See more stories about...
Jack Fitzpatrick
April 14, 2014, 2:30 a.m.

In sub­urb­an Phil­adelphia, one med­ic­al PAC is again mak­ing sure its mem­bers don’t go un­der the polit­ic­al knife un­pre­pared.

The Amer­ic­an So­ci­ety of An­es­thesi­olo­gists’ polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee just made a ma­jor in­vest­ment in an open con­gres­sion­al primary in Pennsylvania, spend­ing $210,000 on ra­dio ads sup­port­ing Demo­crat Val Arkoosh. Arkoosh is run­ning in the lib­er­al 13th Dis­trict, which was left open when Rep. Allyson Schwartz de­cided to run for gov­ernor this year.

And though com­ing in­to an elec­tion as a polit­ic­al novice, like Arkoosh, can be a dis­ad­vant­age, her pro­fes­sion­al ex­per­i­ence is com­ing in handy on the trail.

Arkoosh is an ob­stet­ric an­es­thesi­olo­gist, and her col­leagues have shown a pen­chant for help­ing out their own in elec­tions over the past few years.

The ASA dropped over a quarter-mil­lion dol­lars in 2010 to help Mary­land Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Andy Har­ris be­come the first an­es­thesi­olo­gist elec­ted to Con­gress. And in 2012, the group’s PAC spent an­oth­er $125,000 sup­port­ing GOP Rep. Larry Buc­shon in In­di­ana.

Buc­shon isn’t an an­es­thesi­olo­gist. But the sur­geon-turned-con­gress­man can not only ap­pre­ci­ate their craft, hav­ing worked with them, but it turns out he has a dir­ect con­nec­tion to the ASA: his wife, Kath­ryn Buc­shon, is an an­es­thesi­olo­gist.

Like the dent­al lobby, which has spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in the past two years to keep the House’s two dent­ists in of­fice, the an­es­thesi­olo­gists have a spe­cial in­terest in get­ting their own in­to Con­gress — even if they come from op­pos­ite sides of the ideo­lo­gic­al spec­trum. Arkoosh has been a vo­cal sup­port­er of the new health care law and has made health care re­form the cent­ral is­sue of her cam­paign. Buc­shon and Har­ris, and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans the an­es­thesi­olo­gists sup­port, have voted dozens of times to re­peal Obama­care.

After the 2012 Su­preme Court rul­ing up­hold­ing of the Af­ford­able Care Act, ASA pres­id­ent Jerry Co­hen said in a state­ment that the group would “vig­or­ously par­ti­cip­ate in the on­go­ing de­bate to ad­dress the law’s short­com­ings.” While the ASA has taken a dim view of Obama­care and it donates more to Re­pub­lic­ans than Demo­crats, the group has pri­or­it­ized sup­port­ing an­es­thesi­olo­gists over push­ing for any par­tic­u­lar po­s­i­tion on the law. (It also sup­ports plenty of oth­er med­ic­al pro­fes­sion­als, plus some non-med­ic­al can­did­ates, from both parties.)

An­es­thesi­olo­gists may not take over Con­gress any time soon, but con­sider the ASA’s ag­gress­ive spend­ing an­oth­er symp­tom of how the de­bate over health care has in­flu­enced Amer­ic­an elec­tions over the past few years — and how in­terest groups spend big money to get their own kind in­to high of­fice.

What We're Following See More »
PHOTO OP
Clinton Shows Up on Stage to Close Obama’s Speech
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.

‘DON’T BOO. VOTE.’
Obama: Country Is Stronger Than Eight Years Ago
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."

‘HILLARY CLINTON HAS A PASSION’
Kaine Sticks Mostly to the Autobiography
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.

TRUMP IS A ‘CON’
Bloomberg: Neither Party Has a Monopoly on Good Ideas
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."

TRUMP’S ‘CYNICISM IS UNBOUNDED’
Biden: Obama ‘One of the Finest Presidents’
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."

×